Newest Science Fiction Reviews

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Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

4star.jpg Science Fiction

Eris is one of the foremost operatives of the Novantae, a resistance movement fighting against the ruthlessly expansionist Tholosian Empire – an Empire she was destined to inherit in her past life as Princess Discordia, whom everyone believed has been dead for years. Clo, an ace pilot for the Novantae, has a mission: hijack a Tholosian spacecraft to gather information vital to the war effort. Although she's less than pleased to discover that her former friend Eris is her partner on this mission. Things get more interesting as the mission commences; aboard the ship are three defectors with a secret that could potentially cripple the Empire. Eris's brother Damocles, the runner-up heir to the Empire, is plotting to disrupt peace talks between Tholos and the last of the free alien species. It's a race against time as the rebels move to put a stop Damocles' plans, with millions of lives hanging in the balance… Full Review

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A Life Without End by Frederic Beigbeder and Frank Wynne (translator)

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

I looked at the calendar the other week, and disappointedly realised I have a birthday this year – I know, yet another one. It won't be one of the major numbers, but the time when I have the same number as Heinz varieties looms on the horizon. And then a few of the big 0-numbers, and if all goes well, I'll be an OBE. (Which of course stands for Over Bloody Eighty.) Now if that's the extent of my mid-life crisis, I guess I have to be happy. Our author here doesn't use that exact phrase, but he might be said to be living one. Determined to find out how to prolong life for as long as he wants – he would like to see 400 – he hops right into bed with the assistant to the first geneticist he interviews, and they end up with a child, which is at least a way of continuing the life of his genes, and a motive to keep on going. But how can he get to not flick the 'final way out' switch, especially when foie gras tastes so nice? Full Review

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The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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Wow – this novel is gigantic, in every sense of the word. "Epic" is a word that's thrown around a lot these days, but if a book ever earned the name it's this one. It's a doorstopper full of big ideas, and at times it almost felt too big for my brain. Full Review

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Access Point by T R Gabbay

4star.jpg Thrillers

When we first meet Ula Mishkin she's having something of a professional success: using a device of her own invention she's helped a man who has been blind for decades to see an image of a hummingbird. She's thirty-six years old and her life is about to change radically as, cycling home, she's involved in an accident with a bus. It's two years before we meet her again and in the meantime, she's spent 392 days in a coma and now walks with a stick. A professional colleague persuades Ula that she should let out a spare bedroom to bring in some income. Full Review

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The Book of Koli by M R Carey

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The Book of Koli is the first in a post-apocalyptic trilogy, titled The Rampart Trilogy, by M.R. Carey. The novel is set in a world where nature has turned against humans. Trees move as fast as animals to crush their prey and then soak up their blood. Humans have eked out a small existence in isolated villages. They are primitive except for their reverence of 'old tech'. This is technology from the old world that seems to only work for certain chosen people. However, Koli, a young woodsmith, uncovers a secret about this technology that will upend his life and take him on a perilous journey. Full Review

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Troofriend by Kirsty Applebaum

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Are you tired of your child's classmates constantly being horrible to them? Do you want your child to have some positive experiences with people? Introducing the new Jenson & Jenson Troofriend 560 Mark IV android! These state-of-the-art machines are capable of emulating the full range of human emotions without lying, stealing or bullying. They're the perfect companion for any child! Any mention that these androids are beginning to develop real human feelings are just unsubstantiated rumours and have absolutely no basis in reality…right? Full Review

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The City We Became by N K Jemisin

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New York is being born, the city has reached critical mass and has matured into a living almost-breathing entity and is ready to make it's way out into the world. Before it can be established, an ancient evil appears to attempt to destroy it just as it destroyed Atlantis and other forgotten places. The city is not alone through the birthing process, people who embody the values are selected to become the living embodiment of the city, some cities have one, some have twelve and New York has six. Together these human-embodiments must defeat the woman in white and save New York from very real destruction. But these are five different boroughs which don't always see eye to eye, it's a personality clash on an epic scale and unity is both critical and not remotely guaranteed. Full Review

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Death's End by Cixin Liu

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If I'd been paying more attention when I picked this book up, I would have put it back on the shelf. Not because I didn't want to read it, but because I'd have figured out that it was the final part of a trilogy. Coming in part way through a saga is never the easiest thing to do and it's particularly true in science fiction because without knowing the back-story there are not just people whose names mean nothing to you (when it's assumed they will) but there are whole concepts that you won't understand. This latter is particularly true of Cixin Liu's work – his range is phenomenal. George R R Martin, who knows a thing or two about world-creation, described it as a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, conspiracy theory and cosmology. All of that and more. Full Review

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Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs

5star.jpg Science Fiction

In the near future, life's pretty good. Climate change has been brought under control, the bee population has been brought back from near-extinction, and 3D printing has made things cheaper and quicker than ever before. But the biggest triumph has got to be SPACE, a simulated world that has the ability to mimic emotions as well as images. But, as with every technology, there is the potential for it to be abused. Every day, people are being kidnapped, plugged into SPACE and have their emotions and feelings harvested for the richest and sickest members of society. And now Theo's mum has gone missing. As he follows the trail left by her, he uncovers a vast conspiracy that would use any means necessary to stop him from finding out where his mum has gone... Full Review

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World Engines: Destroyer by Stephen Baxter

4star.jpg Science Fiction

The last thing Colonel Reid Malenfant remembers is his Space Shuttle crashing - until he wakes up in the mid-24th Century, on an Earth massively depopulated and patiently waiting for the coming apocalypse. Suffering from severe culture shock, he tries to adjust to this new world. But all of this is changed when he receives a message from his wife Emma...who died on a mission to Phobos all the way back in 2004. As it slowly dawns on him that their timelines don't match up, he resolves to find a way to Phobos. But, this new society doesn't believe in space travel and no-one is willing to help him, until he meets a driven young woman who desperately wants to explore as much as he does... Full Review

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Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction

After his entire family is killed in a shuttle crash, one that he was piloting no less, Aaron Sheridan enlists in the Martian Fleet, fully expecting to die in the ongoing Rim War. Instead, he winds up on Corinth Station, the Fleet's command school. At first, he is apathetic towards the brutality and scheming of the students and staff, but after standing up for his only friend, he becomes a target for the dreaded Caelus Erik, the most feared cadet on Corinth. Scared that any further actions will put others on his flight team at risk, Aaron shuts himself off from everyone. But, when he discovers that the staff on Corinth have a motive other than training officers, he begins to realise that risking his all might be the safest thing he can do... Full Review

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Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction

In 2031, genetic engineering and robotics is changing the world at an unprecedented rate, with a regimen known as Revision making people stronger, faster and smarter than ever before. Baseline humanity is slowly being rendered obsolete, with people like 16-year-old Dorian Waters being left by the wayside as these new superhumans dominate the workforce. Without Revision, Dorian can't go to University and can't get a job. And so begins Dorian's slow spiral of self-destruction, robbing houses with his best friend Ethan to pay for his Revision, all the time desperately trying to keep this activity secret from his family. But, with his psychopathic brother already suspicious of him and the police gaining ground, Dorian slowly begins to realise that he's going to have to risk everything to stay ahead...Full Review

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Salvation Lost by Peter F Hamilton

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Category:Science Fiction

Humanity is at a turning point. After Feriton Kane's investigation uncovers the supposedly benign Olyix's plan to harvest humanity in the name of their god, the entire human race prepares to fight back. But when the Olyix's harvesting ships appear and start heading towards Earth, and Olyix-derived technology begins preparing them for transportation, humanity realises that they are vastly outnumbered and outgunned. Some people to flee, taking to the stars in an effort to hide from their aggressors, even though only a small percentage of humanity would survive. But others choose to fight them head-on. As humanity comes face-to-face with the largest ever threat to their existence, old grudges will have to be put aside to focus on obliterating this enemy. Even if it means planning for a future than none of them will ever live to see...Full Review

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Velocity Weapon by Megan E O'Keefe

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Category:Science Fiction

After her gunship is destroyed in a battle, Sanda Greeve expects to wake up in a friendly medical ward, fully healed and ready to get back into the fight. However, instead she wakes up a quarter of a millenia later, missing a leg, aboard an enemy starship called The Light of Berossus (or "Bero", as the starship's rather grumpy AI prefers to call himself). Bero tells Sanda that the war is long over, and that the entire population of the system is dead. The only option, it seems, is to travel to the nearest star system. But, as the starship makes preparations for its decades-long voyage across the stars, it becomes clear to Sanda that something else is going on... Full Review

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Across the Void by S K Vaughn

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction

Sea epics? So 20th century. Try a space epic. Full Review

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Exhalation by Ted Chiang

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction, Short Stories

Over the past twenty-eight years Ted Chiang has published fifteen science fiction short stories, these magnificent stories have won twenty-seven major science fiction awards so if you are a science fiction fan it is likely that you have already come across some of the work by Ted Chiang. If you haven't than take this opportunity to do so now. Trust me; your imagination will be grateful. Full Review

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William Shakespeare's Get Thee Back to the Future! by Ian Doescher

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Humour, Science Fiction

A long time ago, in a publishing house far away, someone thought it wonderfully wacky to rewrite the story of Star Wars in Shakespearean pentameter, colliding two entirely different genres and styles in such a clever way they seemed perfectly suited. It was then duly repeated for all the other films in the main Star Wars cycle, and clearly someone's buffing their quills ready for Episode Nine, the title of which became public knowledge the day before I write. In the hiatus, however, the effort has been made to see if the same shtick works with other texts, and to riff on other seemingly unlikely source materials in iambs. And could we have anything more suitably unsuitable-seeming than Back to the Future, with its tales of time travel, bullying, and parent/child strife like no other? Full Review

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A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction

The problem with Martine's fiction debut is that she makes the two commonest errors in SF writing: she tries to be too clever and she wants her fictional languages to be complex and rich and errs on the side of making them unpronounceable by most readers. I can see why she does both, but it's a disappointment because they're the blocks against which the brilliance of the book stumbles. Full Review